Here are the two clumps I have chosen for division. The clump
on the right is a sun beaten Hosta 'Colossal'
and the one on the left is Hosta 'Francee'.
The 'Francee' is three years old and is at the perfect stage
for division, while the 'Colossal' is six years old
and the crown is too crowded.
As a rule the larger and more dense the clump the less divisions
that are possible. On fast growing Hosta,
three or four year plants produce the largest and best divisions, while on
slower growing plants like
the 'tokudama' and 'Sieboldiana' types, old mature clumps that are eight
or more years old produce
the easiest and largest divisions.
Our two clumps are ready for washing, note the hose end sprayer
- this works well for cleaning the dirt
off the crown and roots. Do not worry about damaging the roots with the jet
of water- they are tough and can
take the abuse.
Clean the dirt off of the top and then turn the clump onto
its side and clean again; do this a number of times.
It also helps to pull the roots up and off to the sides as you wash.
Personally, if I have the time, I take the clumps to the lake
and swish them in the water while I am pulling each
cluster of roots apart; the more dirt you get off the clump the easier it
is to pull the divisions apart or to see where
you need to make cuts.
The best tools I have found for the removal of Hosta clumps
from the ground are the above fork with flat blades
and a tiling spade. Dig around the clump, starting six inches from the base
of the clump.
Once you have cut a circle around the clump, pry the clump lose and pop it
out of the ground.
On very large clumps in heavy rocky soils or clay based soils it can be a
The dirt is washed off and I only lost one or two leaves.
We want to keep as many leaves and as many roots
as possible on our new divisions so that the plant will grow fast and become
strong for next year.
Hosta can be divided any time of the year, but mid to late
summer is best, because at this time of the year plants
are actively growing new roots. After some practice, you can produce nice
plants that do not even look
like they have been divided.
If you divide in the spring before the eyes have completely
expanded, expect to have smaller and shorter leaves if
you have to use a knife and cut the crowns. If you can keep from cutting up
the crowns you can expect
good results with a nice balanced clump shape.
If you divide in late spring after the leaves are out most
of the way - many times you will end up with clumps that
look floppy the rest of the season or until new leaves grow if you choose
to cut off the old leaves.
|Here we have the 'Francee' clump semi-divided. On this clump, I have
made all divisions by hand without the use
of a knife.
The less cutting that you can do on your clumps, the better
your divisions will look and grow.
The first step, after cleaning the dirt off of the roots,
is to pull any easily removable stems from the crown.
After you have removed the easy divisions, wash the clump
again and pull the clump in half. Keep pulling the different
sections in half until you get to the number of stems per division you want.
In most cases.
I divide my Hosta for increase or to sell the next year- so I divide down
to single stems and keep them well watered
and fertilized with a mild foliar spray.
To remove a stem from the crown, use a back and forth pulling
motion and not a side wise motion, work the stem
back and forth until it comes loose or breaks from the crown. In the
above picture, we see a nice large division on
the right ready for potting up - it will have three or more eyes next spring.
On those Hosta that are slower growing,
like the large blues, a nice large well rooted single stemmed division like
this one will give you a nice large mature
single or double set of stems next year, with very large leaves.
The other two clumps I will divide more for multiplication
purposes and half would be ready for selling and the other
half will go back in the ground to grow out.
|Here is our clump of Hosta 'Colossal'. Notice how tight the clump is
growing - there is no way that this can be divided
A nice sharp knife will have to be used. Spread the roots
out so that you can located a place to make your cut.
Remember that you want to keep as many roots and leaves as possible, so make
your cuts through the crown but
not into the roots. I start by cutting the crown in half. I do this by placing
the knife in the center of the crown,
as far away as I can be from any large stems.
Make the cut about half way through the crown and then see
if you can pull it apart by hand; use the same back
and forth pulling motion. If you can't pull it apart then make the cut deeper.
|Notice how I have tried to not cut any of the roots, also notice that
no mater how well you wash - once you start
making your divisions you will need to wash more.
If you are just making a division for a friend or another
plant for a different place in the garden - these two pieces
would make nice looking clumps next year the way they are now.
|I have made five divisions using the knife. Notice that some of the stems
are cut in half and others do not have a
balanced set of roots around them. This is the disadvantage of having to
use the knife.
Also note that we have less divisions. Both of the clumps started with around
From the 'Francee', I produced 20 divisions with ten large
ones that were potted up for next year and ten that
were planted back in the ground. All of them had a good set of balanced roots
and will produce nice looking plants
next year that will be much large than our replanted divisions.
From the 'Colossal', I produced five divisions for selling
and five that needed to be replanted. Those I had to replant
will be smaller next year.
Once you have your divisions, the next step is planting them.
Do not let the roots dry out too much. If you can not
plant them right away, place some moist dirt or peat moss on the roots and
put them in a place out of direct sun light.
If your roots dry a little bit before you get a chance to replant - soak
them in a bucket of water with a small amount
of fertilizer. Do not leave the plants in water for more than a day, the
roots will begin to rot.
For divisions that you have produced by pulling them apart
and which have a nice balanced root distribution -
plant your divisions about 1 inch deep- spread the roots out and cover the
stems until you cannot see any of the
white portions at the base of the stems. Water them in well so that there
are no large air pockets in the soil.
Do not step on the soil around the plants - this will compact the soil.
If you had to use a knife and cut up the crown - plant the
divisions around 1.5-2 inches deeper and water in well.